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Curiocity: 'Hungry Girl' Gives Tips To Shed Winter Weight

By Sara Boyd, WCCO

It may not seem like it from our lovely Minnesota weather, but spring is fast approaching. And to many women, that means one thing -- time to shed some of that dreaded winter weight.

I'll be the first to admit that losing weight and staying in shape can be tough. I'm certainly not one of those people who enjoy working out and as a lover of food, the words "eating healthy" sometimes seem like a cruel oxymoron. I'm more like that cartoon character that runs on the treadmill behind a dangling piece of chocolate cake.

So when it comes to getting back to that springtime shape, words like dieting and calorie-counting send a shiver down my spine. Luckily, Lisa Lillien is here to help.

Under the name Hungry Girl, Lillien has helped millions find the balance between eating right and enjoying food -- without expanding those pesky waistlines.

Her new book, "Hungry Girl 300 under 300: 300 Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Dishes Under 300 Calories" is written with the hungry girl in mind, great tasting meals without the guilt. This is her fifth cookbook in the Hungry Girl series and the one she'll be autographing at the Mall of America this Tuesday.

Before her trip to Minnesota, Lillien took a few moments out of her busy schedule (which also includes filming her new Cooking Channel show) to dish about being a Hungry Girl.

Your show on Cooking Channel started just this year and seems like a perfect fit to the Hungry Girl franchise. How has the show been going and what kind of feedback have you been getting from fans?

Lillien: The show is going great! I love working on it and am about to start production on season 2. I get tons of feedback from people who say it's great to see the recipes being made -- really shows them how easy they are to make. And that they want to make everything they see on the show. I love that!

Not only do you offer tips on healthy cooking, without losing flavor, but you also give tips on how to eat smart when dining out. What are some of your best tips for restaurant dining the Hungry Girl way?

Lillien: Avoid the bread basket. Ditch starches and opt for double veggies. Go for lean grilled or baked proteins and ask for sauce on the side -- and only stick your fork into that shared dessert one or two times!

I love that instead of calling yourself the "Healthy Eater" or "Weight Loss Queen," it's "Hungry Girl." Where did the Hungry Girl concept come from? 

Lillien: The truth is -- I'm not "the healthy eater" or a "weight loss queen" -- or a doctor or a dietitian or a nutrition professional in any way. I'm just hungry. And I'm a regular person looking for delicious food that helps me keep my weight in check, like the rest of the world. So the name fit.

With summer just around the corner, everyone (especially in Minnesota) is looking to shed that winter weight and get back to bikini bodies. What are a few tips you can offer for shedding those unwanted extra pounds?

Lillien: Walk a little, now that the weather is getting nicer. Move more! Drink lots of water -- and eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

Hungry Girl Book
(credit: St. Martin's Press)

You'll be coming to the Mall of America this week to sign copies of your book. Have you been here before?

Lillien: Yes! This will be my third time at MOA. I love it! I especially love the SpongeBob roller coaster. Can't wait to ride it again!

How do you come up with your Hungry Girl recipes and find ways to get around some of the fat without losing flavor? How long does it take you to find a recipe that really works?

Lillien: It's easy -- I'm definitely a mad scientist in the kitchen and I have an arsenal of swap foods that I use to help me recreate anything. I'm adding to that list daily. So many recipes are developed each week at the Hungry Girl headquarters. Some take days, some minutes. It depends.

What are your biggest guilty pleasures or temptations and how do you put a Hungry Girl spin on them?

Lillien: French fries, pizza, onion rings, pasta. I have swaps for all of those things. My No. 1 French fry swap is baked butternut squash fries. I made onion rings by coating them in Fiber One and baking them. I have a bazillion guilt-free pizza recipes that use all kinds of low-fat cheeses and various crust swaps, like portabellos, green pepper crusts -- even chicken crust! And instead of pasta, I use tofu shirataki noodles in recipes.

What's the best feedback you've ever gotten from helping women through Hungry Girl?

Lillien: When people come up to me and tell me that I have changed their lives, that they are much happier and healthier and more satisfied. That they think of me as their friend. It's the best feeling in the world!

You've had several New York Times Bestsellers and now the TV show, what's next for Hungry Girl?

Lillien: More TV shows! More books! More fun! I want HG to keep growing and growing and I'd love to see more Hungry Girl foods and products on shelves very soon.

Lisa Lillien (aka: "Hungry Girl") will sign copies of her new book, "Hungry Girl 300 under 300: 300 Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Dishes under 300 Calories" at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 3 at the Mall of America's Best Buy Rotunda.

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